First Time Car Registration in Montana
Montana requires that both residents and individuals working in Montana register their vehicles with the county where they live or work.
If your vehicle is already registered with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), you will want to visit our page Registration Renewal in Montana.
NOTE: Other vehicle types have separate registration requirements, including snowmobiles, recreational vehicles, and custom-built cars. Visit our page on Other Vehicle Registrations for details.
New to Montana?
Upon establishing residency in Montana, you have 60 days to register your vehicle with your County Treasurer's Office.
You must also register your vehicle if you are employed in Montana. If you are moving to Montana for work, but do not plan on moving permanently, look at the "Temporary Residents" section.
To register, visit your County Treasurer's Office and:
- Complete a vehicle registration application.
- Show proof of insurance.
- Present the vehicle's title.
- Submit the registration certificate from your former state.
- Pay all fees:
- Vehicle registration fees, which vary based on age of vehicle and length of registration.
- County option tax, which is based on the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), type of vehicle, and depreciation of the value of the vehicle.
- Titling fees, if required.
- License plate fees, if you order specialized plates.
Registering a Vehicle in Montana
Both permanent and temporary residents of Montana must register their vehicles with the state. Below you will find the processes outlined for each category of driver.
Registration Time Periods
There are different time periods available for registration in Montana. You can choose 12-month or 24-month registration, or you can register your vehicle quarterly if you are working or staying for a short time period. There is even an option for a permanent vehicle registration for certain vehicles.
- 12-month vehicle registration: Vehicle owner must pay all registration fees, county option tax, and any special license plate fees.
- 24-month vehicle registration: Vehicle owner must pay all registration fees, county option tax, and any special license plate fees to cover the full 2 years.
- Permanent vehicle registration: Available only for vehicles over 11 years old. The vehicle will no longer be required to renew their registration for the life of the vehicle or until the vehicle is sold.
- Vehicles with special license plates that require annual renewal are not eligible for permanent registration.
- Quarterly registration: Montana offers non-residents who are working in the state the option to register or renew your registration quarterly, so you do not have to pay the full amounts required for longer registration periods. Remember?you must register your vehicle with the Montana Motor Vehicles Division, even if you are not planning on becoming a permanent resident.
Vehicle Registration for Montana Residents
Dealerships will send paperwork for a newly-purchased vehicle to your County Treasurer's office. Otherwise, you're responsible for the titling and registration of the vehicle, which takes place at the same time.
To register, visit your County Treasurer's Office. You must register in the county where you reside. When you arrive:
- Provide a completed vehicle registration application.
- Provide proof of auto insurance.
- Present the car's title:
- If the vehicle was bought from a private party, the title needs to be signed by the previous owner over to you.
- If the vehicle has recently been purchased, the title transfer and registration take place at the same time.
- Pay your registration fee based on the vehicle's age and on the length of the registration.
- Pay the county option tax, which is based on the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), type of vehicle, and depreciation of the value of the vehicle.
- Pay titling fees, if required.
- Pay license plate fees, if you opt for specialized license plates.
Vehicle Registration for Temporary Montana Residents
Anyone working in Montana is required to register their vehicle with the state. The Montana license plate must be displayed along with the license plate of the owner's home state.
To register, visit the County Treasurer's Office for the county where you work and provide:
- A completed vehicle registration application.
- Proof of auto insurance.
- The car's title.
- The vehicle's current registration certificate.
- Payment for registration fees (based on the vehicle's age and the length of your registration).
- Payment for the county option tax (based on the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price [MSRP], type of vehicle, and depreciation of the value of the vehicle).
- License plate fees, if you opt for specialized plates.
MT Military Registration
Military service members who are stationed in Montana are not required to get a Montana registration if they do not have a secondary job, but they must maintain a current registration in their home state.
If you are a Montana military resident who is stationed out of state, you may be eligible to register your vehicle and purchase license plates without paying Montana taxes and fees meaning you only pay the cost of the registration. Fill out the Application for Military Registration (Form MV53), and contact your local County Treasurer’s Office for details on where to send the completed form.
Once your car is registered, by contacting your County Treasurer's Office, you may be able to get a 40-day tag from MT while waiting for you permanent plates. Learn more at our License Plate page.
Any military service member (or their family members) that works a non-military job in Montana must register their vehicle with the County Treasurer's Office. Follow the steps in the Temporary Montana Resident section above.
Montana Vehicle Registration Fees
Vehicle registration fees vary by vehicle type, size, age, value, and registration time period. The following fees are for passenger vehicles and pickup trucks weighing under one ton.
Montana Vehicle Registration Rates
All fees listed below are based upon a 12-month registration. Any other periods of time should be multiplied or pro-rated according to the time period for which the vehicle will be registered.
- Vehicles 4 years old and under: $217.
- Vehicles 5 to 10 years old: $87.
- Vehicles over 11 years old: $28 (if vehicle is not permanently registered).
Permanent Vehicle Registration Fees
Vehicles over 11 years old are eligible for permanent registration. You will never have to renew your registration after you pay the one-time permanent registration fees.
- Registration: $87.50.
- Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention: $10.30.
- County Tax, which is based on the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), type of vehicle, and depreciation of the value of the vehicle.
- Insurance Verification Fee: $5.
- Optional state parks support: $6.
Vehicles will not be eligible for permanent registration if they have special license plates that require annual renewal fees.
Montana License Plates
You will receive your license plates when you register. The expiration date and registration period will be displayed on the plates. Standard vehicle plates are issued for 5 years, after which they must be replaced.
Depending on whether you get brand new plates with a new plate number, or choose to have an existing license plate number transferred over to your new license plate, you will pay one or more of the following fees:
- $10 new issue fee.
- $10.30 replacement fee (for a new plate number).
- $15.45 duplicate plate fee (for transferring an existing number and plate type).
- $10.30 duplicate permanent tab fee.
Personalized plates cost $25 initially, and $10 at renewal.
Temporary residents of Montana will be issued license plates for their vehicle. The Montana license plate must be displayed along with the license plate of the owner's home state.
For more detailed information about other types of plates and fees, visit our page on License Plates & Placards in Montana.